The American Cheese Society has been holding their annual conference and competition or Cheese Rally this week just down the road in Raleigh. Bull City Burger and Brewery and Reliable Cheese held a beer and cheese pairing earlier in the week. Tonight is the culminating event, the Festival of Cheese, where 1600+ cheesemakers will show their stuff. There will also be crackers, charcuterie, honey, wine, and beer for consumption. I am, as you can probably tell, quite excited.
In the summer edition of Culture magazine (which the BFF let me borrow for the day-- I didn't even know such a magazine existed), the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) is prominently featured.
There are photos of Major, our Durham mascot,
There is also a guide, Game On, for novices such as myself on to how to navigate a Cheese Festival.
Do Arrive Early
Personally, starting off the evening aggravated because I can't find a parking place or arriving late and wasting precious minutes when I could be sniffing (not to mention sampling) cheese would put me in an grumpy mood (see the last don't).
Do Plan To Stay Awhile
No leaving early tonight for us. (Hear that, BFF?)
Don't Eat Too Much- Or Too Little Beforehand
Be hungry, not ravenous.
Do Take An Initial Lap To Orient Yourself
I imagine the Olympic athletes do this, too. Right?
Do Be Mindful Of Progression
As with any tasting experience, start mild and work up to strong-- think fresh goat at the beginning and bleu at the end.
Don't Restrict Yourself
Try some new stuff, even things that you think you don't like (this would be bleu for moi...)
Do Seek Out Cheeses Not Readily Available In Your Region
Artisan cheesemakers tend to sell their stuff close to home. Travel the country through cheese-tasting!
Do Take Notes
Advice from Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingerman's Deli (the BFF heard him talk and has become a groupie)-- take notes, collect business cards, and take photos (I need to get some fresh batteries for the camera...)
Don't Escort The Gang
Just me and the BFF!
Do Bring Snacks
A few crackers or slices of baguette to cleanse the palate. Okay, maybe I need the bigger purse tonight.
Don't Drink Too Much
Moderation in all things. Generally keeps me from spilling stuff, too. Embarrassing.
Don't worry. I think that's really disgusting, anyway, even when cute baseball players do it.
Do Be Considerate
Be polite. Don't hurt the cheesemakers' feelings if you don't fall in love with their product.
Do Stay Comfortable
Practical shoes and clothes. Maybe the white linen dress isn't a good idea? Just in case of spills?
Don't Wear Perfumes Or Colognes
Check. Good advice. Don't want to mask all the yummy smells.
Do Carry Cash
Just like at an outdoor market. Makes sense.
Do Flaunt Your Knowledge
Ask good, thoughtful questions. (I have no medals or ribbons to display. Just several visits to goat cheese makers in France and the US.)
Savor, savor, savor. The cheese and the experience. Mais oui! But of course!
Don't Be Grumpy
Know that it is going to be crowded and go with the flow. I can do this! (See the first do)
This will be a great experience for une petite gourmande such as me. I am up for the challenge.
I am ready to represent my fellow Triangle cheeselovers.
Bon appétit, fromage lovers of the Triangle!